DIY: Altoids Survival Tin

Altoids Survival Tin


Since we may not recognize trouble in the outdoors until it’s too late, proper preparation is crucial. Packing the 10 Essentials is a good habit, whether you are going for a day hike or week-long backpacking trip. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t panic! I’m glad you’re here.

In the 1930’s, The Mountaineers created the 10 Essentials List to help answer two basic questions:

First, can you respond positively to an accident or emergency? Second, can you safely spend a night—or more—out? 

The updated list is included in the 8th edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills:

New 10 Essentials

  1. Navigation (map & compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)

My friend Ari comes prepared for every hike with the 10 Essentials. Many of these items fit into a survival kit about the size of his palm. From the outside, it just appears to be an Altoids box wrapped in rubber-bands and aluminum foil, but what’s inside could save a life! Secretly wishing to make my own, I asked Ari to share what’s inside his Altoids Survival Tin.

What is an Altoids Survival Tin?

The Altoids Survival Tin is what it sounds like, an empty Altoids tin filled with items for wilderness and/or urban survival needs. Depending on your situation or needs, there are many different variations of the items inside the tin. I selected items for my own box based on YouTube videos of different versions.

Altoids Survival Tin
Altoids Survival Tin

How did you decide what to put in your Altoids Survival Tin?

I chose items that would be useful for outdoor activities. I’ve seen more urban survival geared tins with mini scissors, money, emergency phone numbers (i.e. AAA/FEMA/fire/police/etc.), gum, multi-tools, nail clippers, tooth picks, USB drives, whistles, safety pins, etc. The fun part of making your own tin is seeing how much you can trim, get smaller, more of, things into your tin.

What’s Inside?

What’s in that tin?!


  • 1 Bic mini lighter (Fire)
  • 2 Quick tinder ( Fire Starting)
  • 2 Birthday candles ( fire Starting, light source, waterproofing)
  • 1 Stream light nano flashlight ( light source)
  • 4 LR41 Batteries ( change of batteries for flashlight, 8 hours more run time)
  • 1 Suunto clipper compass (navigation)
  • 1 Razor blade (cutting tool)
  • 15ft of 20lb fishing line ( fishing, gear repair, cordage)
  • 2 Fish hooks
  • 2 lead fishing weights
  • 2 Needles, 1 reg, 1 heavy duty/sail needle ( Repairing gear, stitiching wounds, compass)
  • 6ft sewing thread (Repairing gear, stitching wounds)
  • 2ft Tinfoil (signaling, make a cup to boil water, windshield for fire)
  • 2ft Duct tape ( repairing gear, covering wounds, tons more)
  • Medication – 4 ibuprofen (pain relief), 2 Imodium (anti-diarrhea)
  • 2 Alcohol pads ( disinfecting, cleaning, fire starting)
  • 6 Band-aids – 4 reg, 2 butterfly
  • 1 uncle bills clippers/tweezers
  • 1 wallet magnifier (fire starting, wound inspection)
  • 1 mirrored cellphone screen protector (light weight and compact signaling mirror)
  • 1 lens cloth ( bandage, cleaning towel, fire starting aid)
  • 2 Water purification tablets
  • 1 coffee filter (pre-filter for water, fire starting aid, bandage, paper for leaving notes)
  • 2 nails – 1 small, 1 large ( hanging gear, hole punch, used to make weapon, compass)
  • 1 inside of pen
  • 2 Waterproof paper ( leaving notes,remembering directions or other info)
  • 10ft Snare Wire (Snaring animals, gear repair, fishing)
  • 2 rubber bands ( wound compression, keeps water out of tin)

 Special thanks to Ari for contributing this post and for always being prepared for the rest of us!

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